By Chau Tang
On November 17, Marge’s Hope held an event for Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor those who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence.
Before the event, people that gathered at the AIDs Taskforce on Euclid Ave to prepare for the event and hold a vigil for those who had passed in the last year. There were around 45 posters of transgender individuals that were killed in the past year. The posters included names, ages and the place the individuals were from as well as the day they died.
The group of people walked to Trinity Cathedral in silence, holding electric candles and being escorted by Cleveland Police for safety as cameras filmed. When they reached Trinity Cathedral, each chair had a small handout informing them what the event is about, the order of the event, the history of the day and awards that will be handed out to certain individuals.
While this event was open to the public, many university students that came as well. Cleveland State’s Queer Student Alliance made the posters for this year’s event and later formed a line to the front and each person spoke about the transgender individual.
Transgender Day of Remembrance started in 1999 when a transgender individual, Rita Hester was murdered because she was transgender.
“The annual event was designed to raise public awareness of anti-transgender hate crimes and to encourage people to be allies to the transgender community. We also cannot forget all those who have taken their own lives due to hate and bullying. If we are going to stop the violence we need to start with stopping the bullying of all age,” as was stated in the handout.
Reverend Nanette Pitt said a prayer and there was a moment of silence. Next were words of welcome such as thanking those that came to the event tonight. There were a couple of people that spoke about a transgender individual they knew and told their story. The first person was an aunt who talked about her transgender niece. The second person spoke about her transgender female partner and told her partner’s story. The speakers were very emotional. After the speakers, Natalie Martian sang Fields of Gold.
Angie Craggette, aunt of Brandi Bledsoe, was one of the people who spoke at the remembrance. Craggette spoke about Bledsoe’s transition. Craggette admitted,
“I fell over him/her, he/she. I tell people, it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand. It doesn’t matter if you like it. If you loved them before, you will love them after their transition.” Craggette said. “It’s not a choice because who would choose to be ostracized, picked on or be made fun of. Love them, accept them as best you can.”
A second speaker was asked, “How do you define an activist?” The speaker answered, “Somebody who is living their truth without apology. Without accepting the guilt or shame.”
Awards were given out to individuals have helped the LGBTQ+ community. One of those awards were The Civic Leader Award that went to Ann Marie Donegan, mayor of Olmsted Falls.
“I honestly could not believe that inclusiveness and respect would be so hard, so full of hate, the silver lining though however is, if I can make a difference in Olmsted falls, then you can each and every day.” Donegan said. “Remember, stop the hate, peace and love to all.”
Another award were Best Supporting Organization Award goes to Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, a volunteer based independent Democratic Club. Established in 2000 and is devoted to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, advocates had tracked 23 transgender individuals died due to fatal violence in 2016 and 21 transgender individuals in 2015. Victims were killed in the hands of acquaintances, family, strangers, and even partners, some who’ve been arrested or charged while others have not been identified.
Trevor Project reported on a nation-wide study that said 40 percent of suicide attempts were made by transgender adults and 95 percent admitted to attempting suicide before they are 25.
This relates to Cleveland State students because there are transgender individuals among us who must be disheartened and frightened to hear transgender individuals are killed because of how they identified so university students should educate themselves and try to uplift each other up, especially from the LGBTQ+ community.